Advanced Ground Improvement Methods Simplifying Urban Developments

Toronto is seeing a wave of investment in new residential, commercial, and infrastructure projects. With the scarcities in developable urban land, leading developers and owners are increasingly considering parcels that were previously overlooked in the face of technical challenges to development.

Many new developments are being built abutting heritage structures or incorporate restored facades, while others are rising from ever-tighter sites that require greater structural loads to be placed on limited-sized footprints. Further challenges include soil removals and handing, especially where there are known or assumed environmental concerns. 

ground improvement, Menard Canada, construction foundationsCranes working a Menard Canada project, image courtesy of Menard Canada


Ground improvement techniques give developers and their project teams the ability to strengthen poor soils on their sites. These techniques forego the costs and environmental risks of bulk excavation or deep foundation systems. Increasing the strength and stiffness of the existing soil allowing for traditional high-capacity footings and thin floor slabs. Despite the many advantages, noise and vibration from impact-based improvement methods are poorly suited for densely- built-out areas within the city.

Recently developed and trademarked ground improvement techniques now offer alternative solutions to these challenges, including a range of solutions from Menard Canada, a specialty geotechnical contractor with six Canadian offices that execute over 50 ground improvement projects annually. These techniques offer zero vibrations and minimal spoils allowing for widespread adoption in urban centres.

ground improvement, Menard Canada, construction foundationsRapid Impact Compaction work at a Menard Canada project, image courtesy of Menard Canada


Developed in the 1990s by Menard in France, the Controlled Modulus Column (CMC) system uses a patented high torque displacement auger to install concrete columns to depths exceeding 30 metres, without soil removal. These columns are rapidly constructed below standard foundations to transfer structural loads through weak or unstable soils down to more competent layers or bedrock, controlling building settlements. 

ground improvement, Menard Canada, construction foundationsControlled Modulus Column installation at a Menard Canada project, image courtesy of Menard Canada

The CMC system has several advantages on challenging sites, ranging from cost savings, reduction in construction timelines, and elimination of noise and vibration. Unlike traditional drilled caisson systems or engineered fill, Menard’s CMC technique laterally displaces the existing soils which greatly reduces excess soil management on the project. 

ground improvement, Menard Canada, construction foundationsBi-Modulus Column installation at a Menard Canada project, image courtesy of Menard Canada

Without the generation of excess soil or the need for costly foundation elements (pile caps, grade beams, structural slabs), the CMC system simplifies construction from the outset. Further savings can be found through Menard’s design-build lump sum project delivery, insulating owners and developers from costs typically added on for deep foundations as contractors encounter unexpected conditions.

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